Published: Thu, February 16, 2017
Tech | By Constance Martin

Microsoft's Brad Smith calls for a "Digital Geneva Convention"

Microsoft's Brad Smith calls for a

Following the agreement, security companies said they noticed diminished activity originating from China, which at least circumstantially validated using diplomacy to approach cybersecurity issues.

A week before Microsoft's "Future Decoded" event in Mumbai that will highlight how digital technology is empowering people, a top company executive has called for "Digital Geneva Convention" to protect innocent civilians from cybercrimes.

As the public grows more concerned with state-sponsored hacking, Microsoft is calling on tech companies to form a so-called "Digital Geneva Convention" by promising to protect users from nation-state attacks and vowing to never mount offensive cyber attacks.

This digital Geneva Convention would establish protocols, norms and global processes for how tech companies would deal with cyber aggression and attacks of nations aimed at civilian targets, which appears to effectively mean anything but military servers. "There is an opportunity for a new president in the USA to sit across the table with the president from Russian Federation and take another step forward to address the attacks that concern the world".

Microsoft President Brad Smith took to the stage at the RSA Conference 2017 to talk about how "cyber space is the new battlefield" and that "we are far away from declaring victory".

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Interestingly, Smith's proposal seems to outline how nations should behave as they go about their attacks or what some would say the terms of engagement.

"What the world needs is a new independent organization, like IAEA", he said, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The tech sector plays a unique role as the internet's first responders, and we therefore should commit ourselves to collective action that will make the internet a safer place, affirming a role as a neutral Digital Switzerland that assists customers everywhere and retains the world's trust. "We need to be clear we will not aid in attacking customers anywhere, regardless of the government that may ask us to do so". When we think about cybersecurity, we are clearly dealing with a growing problem in need of new decisions. That could mean not building backdoors into programs sold in other countries and not taking part in work to create cyberweapons. Most notably it has waged a long-term legal battle to keep the USA government from accessing European customer data stored in Ireland, a battle Smith was instrumental in waging as Microsoft's chief legal officer.

Smith explains that Microsoft has an extensive war chest to keep services running, Headed up by a Cyber Defence Operations Centre, the company also uses legal recourse on offences such as cybersquatting adding an additional layer to its arsenal, which still only represents one company's role as other corporations mount similar counter responses across both the digital and physical worlds.

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